The figures for 1992 are in: Drug and alcohol use in Utah County is still the lowest of the low.

While national trends of nonprescription-drug and alcohol use are leveling off, a just-completed survey of Utahns 18 and older indicates abuse in Utah - particularly Utah County - is continuing to decrease."Since 1989, use of tobacco, alcohol, stimulants, pain-killers and marijuana have declined," said Al Sherwood, associate director of the Utah Division of Substance Abuse.Utah County's percentages of drug and alcohol users are even lower.

"Utah County is unique. Social problems are not manageable in other parts of the country, but they are manageable here," said Pat Flemming, director of the Utah County Division of Substance Abuse.

Flemming attributes this to prevention efforts in the school system, law enforcement and sub-stance abuse programs around the state.

"Also, we cannot ignore religion. Religion plays a big role in our patterns. People here are more willing to listen if they are approached with a health program," Flemming said.

Many attribute Utah's "healthiest state" status to these trends.

"This is a big reason Utah is considered one of the healthiest states in the nation," Flemming said. "If it weren't for temperature inversions in the winter and overall lower incomes, Utah would always be ranked number one."

The survey indicates that Utah and Utah County have a slightly higher rate of prescription drug use.

"People have suggested that the reason for this is that there doesn't appear to be the stigma associated with prescription drugs as there is to other drugs like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana," Sherwood said.

However, Flemming explained that with prescription drugs, the survey is difficult to assess because the numbers are so small.

"When numbers are below 1 percent, it is difficult to determine accuracy. Percentages of regular prescription-drug users are continually flip-flopping," Flemming said.



Drug and alcohol use

Utah and U.S.

Utah County+ Utah U.S.

Tobacco 7.8% 17.6% *27.0%

Alcohol 10.6% 25.1% 50.9%

Sedatives .3% .8% .4%

Tranquilizers .3% .5% .4%

Stimulants 1.1% .8% .3%

Pain killers 2.1% 1.8% .7%

Marijuana 1.4% 2.5% 4.8%

+Utah County statistics include all people 12 and older

*Cigarettes only